Japan removes Azov Battalion neo-Nazi designation
Japan has revoked the terrorist designation of the Azov battalion, which has been notorious for the crimes it committed in Ukraine against civilians and Russian soldiers.
Tokyo's Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSAI) removed Saturday the neo-Nazi designation of the far-right nationalist Ukrainian Azov battalion from Japan's 2021 handbook on international terrorism.
"Recently, there have been cases of misinformation published as though the PSIA recognized the Azov battalion as a neo-Nazi organization. We regret the occurrence of this situation," the Japanese agency said, apologizing for the designation of a neo-Nazi organization as neo-Nazi.
"The 2021 guide includes data collected from various open sources, including foreign and Japanese media, research institutes, and others," PSAI's statement read, noting that the findings were not an independent evaluation.
"[This] does not mean that the agency has recognized the Azov battalion as a neo-Nazi organization," it stressed despite the battalion's logo itself bearing Nazi insignia.
In order to avoid the circulation of incorrect information, the PSIA said it decided to remove the description from the handbook.
Azov is said to have been behind many war crimes in Ukraine, from killing civilians and trying to shift the blame onto Moscow, to killing prisoners of war of the Russian armed forces.
The National Guard of Ukraine's Twitter account had released a video boasting about Azov fighters greasing their bullets with lard to be used against Muslim Chechens on the Russian side.
The cancellation of the terrorist designation came after intelligence suggested that Azov militants had been planning terrorist attacks in Lvov against Western diplomats to force NATO's arm into imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Nationalists also faced accusations from Moscow of holding hostages in a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which would not be the first crime committed by the notorious far-right neo-Nazi group, as they opened fire on civilians during their evacuation from the city, killing at least two people and injuring four others.